Saturday, July 11, 2015


Becoming a parent is one of the most beautiful and sacred gifts we are given here on this earth. Many people have many different approaches when it comes to parenting but I think that the most important thing to remember is that we need to be unconditional in our parenting style, instead of conditional. Our love for our children should be constant and unwavering no matter what. And they should always know this. They need to know that no matter what they do, they will always be loved. Sometimes parents will withdraw and place feelings of guilt and burden upon their children. I do not agree with this tactic. Parents' goals should be trying to teach children how to get their needs met, instead of trying to meet their needs. 
Children do in fact have several different needs. 
1. Physical Contact & Belonging
2. Power
3. Protection (physical/psychological)
4. Challenge
5. Withdrawal (taking a break)

Some ways that parents can help children get these needs met is to 
1. Offer physical contact freely.
2. Teach children to contribute.
3. Teach assertiveness and forgiveness.
4. Allow age appropriate/situation appropriate choices.
5. Teach kids to take breaks for rejuvenation and relaxation, and then go back to doing hard things.

If we can teach these things to our children, it will be extremely beneficial to our children. They will have great emotional and mental health and be prepared to face the world around them. If you are a parent and want to learn more, some great parenting resources are listed below.

Parenting With Love: Making a Difference in a Day By: Glenn Latham

Unconditional Parenting By: Alfie Kohn

The Importance of Fathers

         Throughout the history of the world, fatherhood has been an essential piece of family life. Fathers have been known to be key and vital characters in their children’s lives. The roles of mothers and fathers have historically stayed in tact and similar. However, in the recent years, the role of the father has taken a few turns down dark and unknown trails. People have started to question the role of the father. They have started to believe that either the father’s traditional roles should not be so traditional, or that father’s aren’t needed in the home at all. The attack on the family unit has hit harder than ever. People of the world exclaim that traditional fatherhood and families are somewhat of an old, unneeded wives tale, created and carried on by religious, conservative, misogynists. However, this happens to be completely false. And science has proven to back that up time and time again.
          According to an article by Ditta M. Oliker PHD entitled, “The Importance of Fathers,” published in Psychology Today, “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.” The article attributes this to Fathers having more one on one playful and stimulating interactions with their children than the mothers do. Because of these interactions, they are more emotionally and socially stable.
          The article then goes on to explain that, “Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father's involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents." Without fathers in the home, children are more at risk for struggling educationally. The increase of high school dropouts, low test scores, and struggling educational programs could most definitely be helped by stronger family units and the presence of the father in the home.
Dr. Oliker also made the point that, “…having a positive male role model helps an adolescent boy develop positive gender-role characteristics,” and that, “…adolescent girls are more likely to form positive opinions of men and are better able to relate to them when fathered by an involved father.” These ideas of acceptance to one’s own gender and one’s opposite gender are key in our society. To increase understanding and love and acceptance is so vital to communities, and to nations as a whole. Fathers play an extremely important role in helping their children understand these things.
          In an essay by Paul Raeburn titled, “The Daddy Factor,” published in the Saturday Evening Post, he discussed a few more important findings and necessities that the father brings into the lives of his children. He says, “Fathers' unpredictability helps children learn to be brave in difficult situations or when meeting new people. In one study of 1-year-olds taken to swimming class, researchers observed that fathers were more likely to stand behind their children, so that the children faced the water, while mothers tended to stand in front of the children, the better to make eye contact. From this and other studies, he concluded that fathers may be especially important in supporting their children as they move from the family to the world outside the door. And one of the first and most important unfamiliar environments that children encounter is school. Children who make the transition from home to school more easily, who are free of behavior problems and relate well to their peers and teachers, are more likely to do well in kindergarten and elementary school.” To have independent and confident children, who are also very well behaved and well educated is key to society. The rising generations must be full of these kinds of people in order to be happy and successful. Which is all one could wish for her future family and children.
          Another important point that Raeburn made was the fact that during World War II and on, scientists and psychologists began to question the importance of the father in a child’s life (specifically their sons). They began to doubt whether or not his role was beneficial. “The problem was that nobody had asked why boys might want to be like their fathers.” Raeburn explained. Once they did ask the sons, it became clear that the father’s warmth and closeness with his son was the most important and vital factor in his life and his growth. I found this point to be extremely interesting because it relates so well to today. So often do we hear of how unimportant a father is to a child and to a home or to a woman from adults. We hear it from those who believe they know what is best for their child. But do we ever hear these things from the children? I personally, never have.
            From my own experiences, I can honestly say that having a father is vital for full happiness and wellbeing of children. I love my father. My experiences with him growing up were so wonderful, and I attribute much of who I am today to him and what he has taught me. Learning all about the statistics of what fathers do for children was really interesting to me because it really helped me recognize some of the reasons why I succeed in the things that I do. School has never been a large struggle or me, I have never had severe behavioral problems, never once have I abused or even used drugs or alcohol, and I have a true love and appreciation for men (my opposite sex) and all that they are and all that they do. I don’t think I would be able to say all of these things if I didn’t have such a wonderful father helping raise me all of my life.
            Of course, having a father is not enough. He has to be a kind, loving, and encouraging father. I understand that this is not the case for everybody. I was lucky enough to have the experience of having one of these. However, I do not believe that there is any possible way to argue that having a loving, kind and encouraging father would not put a child at an advantage socially, emotionally, educationally or professionally. And I do not believe that there is any possible way to argue that not having a father such as this would not put a child at a disadvantage in these ways.
            I believe that fathers are essential. In my future family I am already taking steps in ensuring that my future children have the positive influence of a wonderful father in their life. Right now, it is just by dating the right kind of person. I must marry a wonderful man in order for my children to have a wonderful father. I must make sure that he is responsible, kind, loving, encouraging, affectionate, and an effective communicator. I will 100% marry a man who possesses these qualities. Currently I am dating someone and moving towards marriage. He is absolutely wonderful and someone that I know I can trust to take good care of and an active role in my children’s lives.
            Another thing that I will make sure of is that my husband and I always counsel together for the wellbeing of my children and that we help each other carry out our responsibilities. I will make sure that he is always able to have the opportunities necessary to connect with our children. We are going to always have family prayer and scripture study, and will work together and have family togetherness time to ensure that our children can feel the role of their father in their life. We will also have one on one time with our children. I will do all in my power to give my future children the best. And I know they will have the best father.
            I know that fatherhood is important. I know that it is essential. I am so grateful for my father in my life and all he has done for me and my family. I would not be who I am today without him in my life. I cannot wait for the day that I can have children of my own and help them understand the role of the family and the role of their father and mother. It is my prayer that the rest of the world can someday understand just how important and necessary fatherhood really is.

Communication and Mutual Problem Solving

I know we have all heard the phrase, "communication is key." It really is! I think that good communication skills are awesome and come in really great hand when dealing with marriages and families. However, I think we often blame problems in marriages and families on, "poor communication," when the problem really lies a bit deeper than that. When real problems arise, they often effect the way that we communicate with those around us. When a husband is frustrated with his wife he may withdrawal emotionally. Therefore the way he communicates with her changes. He may be more quiet, withdrawn, uninterested or inattentive. When a wife is frustrated with her husband she may be more anxious, critical, snappy, or volatile. And vice versa. This does not necessarily mean that these individuals have poor communication skills. Instead, it means that there is a problem that needs to be fixed.
With this in mind, there are indeed ways to make sure we are keeping up with our good communication. We can make sure that we are facing the person we are talking to and keeping good eye contact. We can make sure that we are not on any kind of technological device such as a phone, iPad, or computer when someone is talking to us. We can also make sure that we are available when our family members or spouse is trying to get a hold of us, or trying to talk to us in person. Our tone and the way we say things is also important to always keep in mind. It is important to make our family members feel like they are a top priority in order to have happy marriages and families. The things we do are often much more important than the things we say in terms of caring and loving (although it is always important to say, "I love you.") But often times our spouse and family members will better know that we love them by the way that we interact around them, and the things that we do for them.

The Family Under Stress

Family Crisis' are inevitable. We live in a fallen world and things are undoubtedly bound to happen. Whether it be death of loved ones, marital problems, health problems of parents or children, or issues of abuse; things will happen. However, these crisis' can be an immense blessing to families depending on how we choose to handle these problems as they come about. We can either choose to let them break us, or to be proactive and work together to have them strengthen and heal us.
When I was a sophomore in high school on my sixteenth birthday, my grandpa had a stroke and was put into the hospital for about a week. I remember standing in the hospital talking on the phone with my cousin (and best friend) Ashley, and not knowing where our family would stand if he were to pass away. I felt so distressed and heartbroken. I felt like there was no safe place to turn. I was wrong. Because I had my ever loving Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. I really learned to rely on them through this time. My grandpa ended up passing away. And it was such a sad and traumatic time for all of us. But instead of letting it draw us into isolation and overwhelming sadness, we really came together. All of my aunts and uncles chose to celebrate him, and though it was hard, we all became a lot stronger because we all decided to rely on our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. We felt the presence of our grandpa, and somehow felt closer to him than we did before. It was a miracle. Although things are still not perfect now, we are still a close and strong family. We didn't let our family crisis break us.
To find the goodness and strength in the midst of a family crisis is difficult. It often requires sacrifice. But if we choose to make things better, and come together, life will be better for us. Our test here on earth was not to see how we acted when things were perfect, but it was to see how we act when everything seems to be falling apart.

Sexual Intimacy and Family Life

Sexual intimacy is meant to be a bonding act between husband and wife. Anything beyond that can be extremely harmful to relationships and individuals undoubtedly. The power of procreation is a sacred gift and should be treated as such. When going into a marriage, it is important to remember that sexual intimacy is an essential part of marriage and marital happiness. It can be used in help to help bond husband and wife, to provide a safe and therapeutic environment to talk things over together, and to express love to each other at a new and different kind of level.
These things said, it is important to understand how sexual intimacy works. There are different response cycles for men and women. Actually, both have the same response cycle, they just happen and occur at different speeds and for different lengths. The cycle goes as follows: excitement, plateau,  orgasm, and resolution. Men typically are more quickly excited, and have a much shorter, yet more intense plateau than women. They go through the sexual response cycle a bit more quickly than women. That is why there is usually something called foreplay in sexual intimacy, to help the female and male get to common ground.
A question people often ask when it comes to sexual intimacy is, "what is a good number that couples should be having per week or month?" In regard to this question, I think what it really comes down to is selflessness. Both partners should be being selfless with each other. If this is happening, than it really doesn't matter how many times a week it occurs. But sexual intimacy should be a regular thing amongst married couples. It should be something that occurs often to strengthen the marriage, relationship, and family life.
Sexual intimacy within the bonds of marriage is a wonderful blessing to couples and families. It is the power to bring precious spirits into this world and into families, and should always be treated with respect and without mockery.

Transitions in Marriage

I think that the most important thing to remember when it comes to transitioning into marriage is to keep our priorities in check. The most important thing is the marriage itself. Not the wedding reception, ring, or presents. But the fact that two people are coming together and starting their journey to becoming one. I think that often in our society people underestimate marriage and focus in more on the less important things. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $26,444 not including the honeymoon. The average cost of an engagement ring is $6,113. Maybe this isn't totally out of control to everybody out there in this big beautiful world, but I think that is really just far too much. There have actually been studies done to show that people who have spent $20,000 or more on an engagement ring were 3.5 times more likely to end up in divorce.
We, as a society, need to start putting first things first again. The marriage ceremony (or temple sealing) should be the main focus of weddings. Everything else is great and fun and wonderful, but secondary. I think that if our priorities were more straightened out from the get-go, we would have a lot more happy marriages.
Another important thing to consider when going into marriage is to put your partner first. Often times, when planning for a wedding, the bride to be turns straight to her mother for help with planning. It is totally fine to consult with mom and parents when planning, especially because they are probably the ones paying for it, BUT... the most important person that the bride to be should be turning to is her future husband. He should be involved with the planning. Marriage is supposed to break the parent/child bond a bit, and strengthen the husband/wife bond. This is why it is so dangerous to have such an expensive wedding. If the bride's parents are pouring thousands and thousands of dollars into a wedding, then obligations and uncomfortable situations are more likely to be created and the husband/wife bond is much more difficult to strengthen. Barriers are often created.
The wife should always turn first to her husband. The same is also true for when children come into play. Often times when a woman becomes pregnant she turns straight to her mother for help and support. It is fine to go to mom together as a husband and wife for advice and support. But when the wife starts to turn only to her mother for her main sense of support and advice, a barrier begins to be made between herself and her husband. But if she was to turn instead to her husband, then that bond is strengthened once again, and a marriage is much happier because of it. Men often feel unincluded and out of the loop when it comes to pregnancy and raising their children. Creating a sense of apathy and discouragement in the husband. Many women use the phrase, "my babies," while telling others that her husbands job is just to go out and work. This mades for a very unhappy marriage and dysfunctional family unit. The raising of children should be made by husband and wife. It is a team effort. It is a strengthening tool for marriages and families. Husbands and wives should always be united, and never use such selfish tactics. These things are extremely important to remember when transitioning into marriage.

Preparing for Marriage

Preparing for marriage is one of the most important things we can do in our life time. Since marriage is one (if not, "the") most important decision we will make in our life time. So if we are not well prepared, then we will not be knowledgable to make a good decision in partner selection or have the skills and tools needed to be the kind of wife and mother or husband and father that we really want to be. An excellent way to prepare well for marriage is to date. There are proper ways to date and improper ways to date. Dr. John Van Epp developed an excellent model to insure good dating habits called the RAM, or Relationship Attachment Model. In the RAM there are five different sliders. Know, Trust, Rely, Commit, and Touch. These sliders all go in order in regard to what should happen first, in a relationship before the next slider. One should know a person before they trust them. One should trust a person before they rely on them. One should rely on someone before they commit to them. And one should have some sort of commitment to someone before they touch in any kind of way. If one was to follow this model, it is so much less likely that they will get severely hurt in dating, and much more likely that they will be able to determine which partners are suitable and which are not.

Another excellent thing we can do when preparing for marriage is building ourselves up to who we really want to be. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually we should be at the top of our game. We should be the kind of person that we want to be with. If we do this, we will attract those who we are looking for. Dating is so important. Our society has kind of gotten rid of the practice. We have become so used to sliding into things and forgotten how to be intentional. If we were to all follow the relationship attachment model, establish proper barriers, and be intentional when we take people out on dates, then I think we would have a lot more happy relationships and overall happy marriages. 

Gender and Family Life

For those of you who don't know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Some know our church as the Mormon church. In my religion we believe that gender is divine. Something that we have always had. We believe that each gender has very sacred and important characteristics that are necessary for the family unit. We believe that there are only two genders, male and female, and that each gender has an important role here on earth and in the life to come. We believe that families are essential, and that they must only be created through the marriage of one man and one woman. We believe that a mother and a father each have very individual and important things to offer their children. According to our Family Proclamation to the World we believe that a mother is primarily responsible for the nurturing and care taking of her children, and that the father should be the primary protector and provider for the family. Science has backed up the fact that children need both a mother and a father. That's because God's ways make sense. They are eternal. They are what lead us to everlasting happiness. I love how each of our genders have something important and beautiful to contribute to our families. I love how we are all vital contributors. And I love how God's plan is so real and so perfect.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Diversity in Families

As previously stated in my last blog post, all families are different. They are all unique and beautiful and wonderful in their own way. However, although there can be some really great and beneficial differences in each family, there are also some differences that can be a bit harmful and destructive to the lives of the children, the parents, and the family unit as a whole. Is it fair to say that not all families are equal? Some would argue that its not. But as I have studied the family unit and the different statistics that go into family diversity, I have realized that not all families are equal. And to ignorantly keep on arguing that they are is completely destroying the family. Although all families have (or should have) some sort of good within them, there are many statistics out there that show that children who are only raised by a single mother, or father are at a lower advantage than those who are raised by a mother and a father in the same household. Of course this is not to say that children who are raised by a single mother or father are destined to a terrible life. That is not the case at all. But they are shown to be at a lower advantage and to have more struggles physically and psychologically than those who are not. It just makes their lives a bit harder than it needs or has to be. Cultural differences are wonderful and can be so helpful in the individuality and growth of children and their family unit. But when it comes to differences in parenting, and parents in the home, it should always come back to one thing, The children. Questions such as, "Is this what is best for my children?" "Is this conditional or unconditional parenting?" and, "Is this me being selfless for my child?"Are good and enlightening questions to ask oneself in regard to these important family decisions. Family differences can be so beautiful, but when they are the effect of selfish behavior, they can be devastatingly destructive.

For any further questions on family structures, I would highly recommend checking out

Understanding Family Dynamics and Theories

Something that I really love about the world that we live in today is the fact that every single person, and thing is different from all of the others. We are all unique and beautiful individuals. I think that in the past sometimes people had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that we are all different and would want every person to look and act the same. There was little tolerance to thinking outside the box or doing things in less traditional ways. I think that our world has become a bit more advanced in the fact that we now are a lot more accepting of the individual and of unique qualities. I love that about us. We have come to terms, in a sense, with the fact that there is not a cookie cutter solution to the world's every problem. I think that this becomes extremely important in regard to the family. Every single family is different and unique and unidentical to every other one out there. Each family has different children with different needs, wants, and struggles. Every family has a different set of parents with their own unique relationship. This is the first important thing to remember about family dynamics and theories. We are all different. And that's okay. However, although we are all different, there are a few different kinds of family dynamic theories that can better help us understand our own families and the families around us. If we can understand these things better, then we can better fix the problems that we see in our lives, and help others with the problems that they face.

Family Dynamic Theories:

1. Exchange Theory: Exchange theory can be seen when one tries to keep their costs lower than their reward in their interactions with other people. If a relationship is always taking more than it is giving to an individual, than that individual is likely to cut off the relationship altogether. Exchange theory can be seen in families when it comes to decision making, child rearing, and the division of labor in the home.

2. Symbolic Interaction Theory: According to my textbook Marriage & Family: The Quest For Intimacy written by Robert H, Lauer and Jeanette C. Lauer, it states that, "Symbolic Interaction Theory views humans primarily as cognitive creatures who are influenced and shaped by their interaction experiences. That is, what happens in interaction is a result not merely of what individuals bring to it but also of the interaction itself... Symbolic interactionists believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." They used the example that perhaps a man who is negative about parenthood might then become excited about it as he interacts with his own child.

3. Conflict Theory: "Conflict theory asserts that all societies are characterized by inequality, conflict, and change as groups within the society struggle over scarce resources. These groups have differing and even contradictory interests, needs, and goals." The book explains that because of these differences within a family unit, and because the people within it may strive for these things but there is not a sufficient amount or number for all, that not everybody can be satisfied. These things are very prominent amongst social class and gender.

Once we come to better understand these theories, it is easier for us to recognize why our families may be struggling in certain areas, or why our families are doing well in certain areas. It allows us to focus in on the good and change the bad. It also allows us to better understand our own family dynamic, and the importance of a good and functioning family unit.